Black Star Elephant

by: Nico & Vinz

Afro-beat pop by way of Norway, Nico & Vinz deliberately blur cultural and musical boundaries on their 2014 debut, Black Star Elephant. Such happy disregard for genres is the secret to the duo's appeal, as is how they emphasize hooks above all else. Usually, the rhythms are too streamlined and club-ready to be called polyrhythms, although they certainly exuberantly percolate in the fashion Westerners associate with African drums. They're there for color as much as they are for dancing because the emphasis is on the insouciant breeziness of their light-as-a-feather melodies and harmonies. Often, as on the global smash single "Am I Wrong," they recall nothing so much as a Europop variation of Bruno Mars' interpolation of Sting, who himself often dabbled in multicultural musical adventures, which means Nico & Vinz provide an odd squaring of a circle: they're interpolating an interpolation of an interpolation. Far from diluting the pleasures of Black Star Elephant, this cultural disconnect enhances them because it emphasizes how, at their core, Nico & Vinz are lite bubblegum worldbeat pop, and will try on any fashion just as long as it might bring them a hit. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Please enable Javascript to view this page competely.